We got the old Irishman drunk
at a hotel in Galway
& on the way home
stopped in the treeless bog
&got him to lie on the roof of his car
to watch the stars wheeling, my wife & I.
When car lights appeared on the road
he scrambled down & hid
lest someone see him & think him a fool
Still later we got him to sing us old love songs
& tell us the story of how electricity
came to the village in 1959
& the street lights washed out the stars.
In Jackson New Hampshire
we drove to the top of a hill
above the wash of the street lamps
& held our breath in the winter presence
of stars & galaxies & the long dish edge
of the milky way looking inward.
A night could almost make you believe in God
but love, for cold & for sure, that was
another thing that was real as rocks & the stars looked down
on us indifferent.
2:00 AM. My eyes won't close. The drugs
poor soldiers, won't do
their duty. Outside: stars hiding
in a low cloud scudded sky.
I want to believe in god
or love or serendipity
or that our lives are more than disappointment
but the city erases all but the most persistent
stars & the long spill of the milky way
is nowhere to be seen
The Irishman is dead
my wife asleep upstairs
& it has been years since Jackson
I stand outside in my underwear old coot
my feet touch cool grass
not yet dewy with birdsong
& below that the density
of the starless & utterly